Within hip-hop culture, “grillz” are a type of jewelry worn over the teeth. Typically comprised of metals like gold or platinum, they have become symbolic of a wearer’s assumed over-the-top wealth, as exhibited in a number of music videos and on-stage performances from Nelly to Lil Wayne. While musicians in the early ‘80s began to sport them, it wasn’t until the mid-2000s when they became mainstream due to the rise of Southern hip-hop and its coinciding culture status.
Though advancements in 3D printing technology have yielded new creations from organs and prosthetics to cars and pancakes, one Maker has decided to extend that spectrum of things to include printed grillz. New York-based artist Roopa Vasudevan has taken lyrics from famous rappers — such as Notorious B.I.G., Jay Z, Puff Daddy (P.Diddy or whatever he goes by these days), and Rick Ross — and alogirthimcally analyzed them for mentions of money and income to create a set of 3D-printed, polished gold steel “grillz.”
The lyrics were processed through Pygenius Python, which created 3D shapes. With the assistance of Geomerative and Modelbuilder libraries these 3D models were then finalized in a polished gold steel.
“Mentions in each category are scored according to relative distance from words of the opposite polarity, and the resulting landscape formed is extruded into a 3D shape and printed as wearable grills: jewelry designed to fit over one’s teeth, and which have become inextricably linked to hip-hop culture over the years as a symbol of over-the-top, ostentatious wealth,” Vasudevan writes.
Vasudevan’s incredibly innovative project has drawn quite the attention at recent exhibitions, ranging from Brooklyn’s Dumbo Arts Festival to the upcoming MAKE: Wearables on the Runway Show. The Maker is an alum and adjunct at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), which has produced such innovations like the Smart Hoodie.
… Don’t forget to pair these grillz with some LED stunna shades!